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How to best utilize a third-party recruiter

I receive a lot of calls and inquiries via LinkedIn about how to best work with a recruiter. As simple as this seems,  many organizations have not utilized a third-party recruiter previously or have not  developed that process and relationship to its maximum potential. Developing exclusive, mutually beneficial relationships go a long way to ensuring that top talent is ultimately delivered. The following should help an employer or an organization looking to hire understand the third-party recruiting process and how to best use it to their own benefit. 

As is the case with all relationships, business or personal, communication and transparency are the keys to success. As I mentioned last week, recruiters may be willing to negotiate somewhat on fee at this time but, like everyone, they are going to look to get something back in return. In our industry, fee agreements are nearly identical. The three big moving parts are fee charged, guarantee period, and payment terms. Understand, if you are looking for the recruiter to move off of their standard agreement, that you may have to give to get. Identify what is most important for you to get and also identify what you are most able to give in return to make these terms acceptable to both sides. Again, an exclusive arrangement with a particular recruiter is unquestionably going to yield the best results for your company. 

Once the fee agreement is agreed to and out of the way, we move on to the critical discussion of the job order / job description itself. Many job descriptions are written in HR speak and state very little about what exactly the employer is looking for and will require for success in this role. This is where being open and honest with the recruiter will serve your company the best. Speak to not only what the job description calls for but also what the company has to offer that makes them unique, different, and compelling. Speak to what the culture is like and what the management style the person overseeing this role is. Both of these areas are critical to identifying fit in an organization. My favorite question to ask new clients is- what is it about this opportunity and your organization that will make a candidate who is employed, engaged,  productive and happy consider this opportunity? Unless you are able to answer this question with clarity and conviction, your ability to attract that desired passive talent is greatly diminished. Understanding the compensation package and benefits offered is critical but it is rarely the reason a great employee takes a new position. The need for the company and the recruiter to be on the exact same page with both what they are looking for as well as what they are offering both tangible and intangible is paramount. Not fully explaining or not fully understanding these areas will ultimately result in deals falling apart. 

After ironing out the fee agreement and the job description, setting expectations for process and communication going forward is the next crucial area to address. What does the interview process look like? Who is the recruiter submitting the qualified candidates to? What kind of pre-screening questions does the company want to know from the recruiter prior to submittal? What kind of references have you done on this candidate? When is a reasonable time to follow up after an interview? What and when are the next steps? Who will be extending the offer the company or the recruiter? All of these areas and more should be addressed before any candidate is submitted to the client company. The better understanding each party has of the process and communication and expectation the smoother and more effective the process will be. 

I know most recruiters, myself included, prefer to be the one to extend the offer as generally speaking they have developed a closer relationship with the candidate throughout the process as opposed to the couple of times the candidate has spoken with the company. Since the company pay our feesI certainly defer to their preference but I also explain to them the benefits of allowing the recruiter to extend the offer. It keeps the company out of the negotiations and it keeps the emotions on either side from taking over what should be a common sense business decision. If we get to the offer phase and everything has been done properly up until that point, any offer extended should be accepted. I’m not saying there are never outliers for whatever reason but I know the experienced recruiters that I speak with on a regular basis will never extend an offer unless they know it will be accepted. This is where much of the value of utilizing a recruiter is derived. It is not solely in the identification of candidates but in the ability to deliver them. 

Once the offer is accepted, the job is not done. There is the preparation for and anticipation of the counter offer from the candidate’s current employer. Anyone worth their salt in this marketplace should expect a counter offer. This comes back to the recruiter who needs to have been explaining to the candidate throughout the interview process that a counter offer will be forthcoming and why it is a terrible idea to even consider it. If interested, we can do another blog entry strictly on counter offers as I have done hour-long training sessions on just that topic alone.  

Having navigated the counter offer and the declining of it, the candidate can proceed with the accepted offer, resign and set a start date- all of which the recruiter should be heavily involved with in facilitating. Many companies have been forced to alter their onboarding processes as a result of covid-19 and therefore the recruiter should be as heavily involved as needed with whatever new accommodations the company needs to make to get the hired candidate on-boarded. 

Hopefully this material was educational and informative. If you have any questions specifically as I did not delve into all that much depth at any one particular part of the process, please feel free to reach out to me. Again, managing expectations on both sides of the relationship and understanding the job, culture, and process will help make the utilization of the third-party recruiter the positive experience for all involved that it should be. 


Hugh Gallagher 

The Gallagher Search Group 


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